Meet the Dietitian: Alta Kloppers

You might have heard the name Alta Kloppers. She serves on the ADSA Executive Committee from 2019 – 2023 in the Private Practicing Dietitian portfolio. Do yourself a favour and get to know them better!

  • Tell us a bit more of yourself?

I was born more than a half century ago at one of the hospitals where I currently run a practice, at that time known as the Glynnwood Nursing Home in Benoni. I was also schooled and lived on the East Rand all my life. I obtained a B Dietetics degree as well as Post Graduate Diploma in Hospital Dietetics from the University of Pretoria and recently completed a M Sc Dietetics degree from the University of the Free State. I have been a PPD for 27year.

In December, I will be married for 33 years. We have a beautiful 23year old son that makes us very proud.

  • Why did you become a Registered Dietitian?

I wanted to become a pharmacist all my life. When I was not accepted to study pharmacology, (those years there were no 2nd and 3rd choices) – I paged through possible courses and noted that a certain course included pharmacology as subject in the third year. I paged back and saw that it was the B Dietetics course and immediately decided that this is what I want to do.

  • What would you have wanted to do if not Dietetics?

30 years ago, a pharmacist, now…  I can’t imagine being anything other than a dietitian.

  • Where did you study (degree and/ or postgrad)


  • Where do you work and what does your job entail?

My practice is based in Alberton and Benoni. My personal special interest is critical care, food allergies as well renal. I work with a team of passionate dietitians. Besides consulting my own patients, I love mentoring and teaching the younger dietitians in my practice. I also enjoy running my own business and the challenges that it entails.

  • What do you enjoy most about the work you do? What are the most satisfying moments?

I love teaching. I enjoy most to be able to “connect” with a patient during a session and observing the “aha moments” in their eyes, regardless, if it is explaining to a weak ICU patient why they need additional supplementation or an insulin resistant patient grasping that they actually do need carbohydrates. I also love it when young dietitians show a true passion for the profession and being able to mentor them to the best of my ability.

  • What has been your career highlight?

I know it sounds boring but obtaining my Masters.

  • What are the most challenging aspects of your career?

Running my practice like a business. 

  • What is something that people don’t know about you?

I am determined to learn how to  ride a horse at my mature age.  I can’t ride a horse but I am determined to learn how to do it and do it well when I can make the time to do so!

  • What are your favourite foods?

“Skaaptjoppie met n stukkie vet aan”

  • What are the three things that you think people should stop saying when they meet a dietitian?

Start telling me what they eat

Telling me they “don’t do carbs” without even knowing what carbohydrates are

Changing “people” to “nursing staff”  – what is for lunch today?

Nutrition trends for a healthy weight in 2022

Whether you have promised yourself you will get rid of the pandemic bulge, want to try out clean eating or are thinking of taking up fasting, it helps to get professional advice and avoid the masses of misinformation and untrustworthy opinions that abound when it comes to diet, weight loss and optimal nutrition. 

Healthier eating and maintaining a good weight are amongst the worthiest goals we can have for the New Year, but how you go about it is important.  After all, there’s little point in reaching your goal weight in 2022, if you are unable to sustain it.  Our panel of Registered Dietitians, all spokespeople for ADSA (The Association for Dietetics in South Africa) are weighing in on what’s important to know about weight loss in 2022.

Losing weight is not a sprint to the finish line

Once we set a weight loss goal, we naturally want to get there as soon as possible.  Unfortunately, sustainable weight loss doesn’t work this way, and the best chance for long-term results comes with viewing your efforts as a patient, committed journey.  Drawing on evidence-based research, our dietitians all agree that restrictive or radical eating fads must be avoided.

Lila Bruk says, “Set small achievable goals with the aim of achieving a loss of 0.5 to 1kg per week. See a dietitian to get an individualised eating plan and weight loss strategy tailored to your lifestyle and food preferences.”

Zamantungwa Khumalo adds, “Allow your body time to adjust to the change in your eating habits.  You cannot change years of poor eating habits in just one week or one month. A healthy, balanced diet is the way to go, along with lifestyle changes such as increased regular physical activity.”

Retha Harmse concludes, “Choose healthier routines and habits rather than restrictions and deprivation.  If your new healthy eating plan and exercise routine fit your lifestyle, then you are more likely stick to it long-term.  Aim for progress rather than perfection, and avoid having an all-or-nothing approach which can lead to getting stuck.  If you aren’t able to make the best choice, then just make the better choice!”

Think more than twice before you use weight loss supplements and home remedies

With promises of the fastest, easiest results, weight loss supplements can be tempting.  However, most products that are marketed as weight loss aids are poorly regulated and are not scientifically tested for efficacy.  They may contain ingredients that have harmful effects on the body’s organs, such as kidneys and liver.  Many cannot be taken for extended periods of time, and therefore cannot offer you sustainable support.

Lila says, “There are no quick fixes and if it seems to be too good to be true then it is!  Many of these products contain potentially harmful ingredients including stimulants, laxatives, diuretics and even banned substances. The only way to achieve successful weight loss and maintain your healthy weight is to follow a sustainable, balanced eating plan combined with regular physical activity.”

Why carbs are not the enemy

Diets restricting carbohydrates remain trendy even though dietitians, nutrition researchers and other health professionals warn of the health risks of radically curbing carbs to favour proteins and fats. 

Retha says, “Demonising carbohydrates for causing weight gain is like blaming cars for all accidents. It is a bit more complex than that! Carbohydrates have the same energy density as protein at 17 kilojoules per gram, and you can easily reduce your daily kilojoule intake for weight loss without eliminating carbohydrates.  Carbs are important sources of fibre, vitamins and minerals.  For weight loss eating plans, choose wholegrain and complex carbohydrates as far as possible.  Make carbohydrates a part of your balanced diet and keep your portion sizes in check.”

How to stay fuller for longer when you are trying to lose weight

There’s nothing like hunger to derail your efforts to lose weight, and so preventing hunger is an important strategy when you are following a weight loss eating plan.

Lila advises, “To stay fuller for longer, fibre is really important. If you choose foods that are high in fibre, it will keep you full for longer as well as keep your blood sugar levels more balanced. High fibre foods include legumes, fruit, vegetables and whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa. Protein and fat also add to the satiety of a meal. To feel satisfied with your meals, ensure that half your plate is covered with vegetables and salad; a quarter of your plate is a serving of lean protein such as chicken, legumes or fish; and the last quarter is fibre-rich whole grains. Include a small portion of unsaturated fats such as olives, avocado, nuts, seeds or olive oil for a fully balanced and filling meal that will enhance your weight loss.”

What is ‘clean eating’ – and should we do it?

Clean eating trends have become increasingly popular and are often taken up by those committed to healthy lifestyles, wellness and self-care.  Generally, there is a focus on eating whole-foods and an avoidance of highly processed ones.  Some clean eating trends promote organically produced foods and eschew foods containing preservatives or food additives.  There is no one clean eating regime but the trend does encompass some fad diets that restrict the intake of certain foods such as dairy or animal proteins, or food components such as gluten.

Zamantungwa says “There are many different definitions of clean eating around the world, however in simple terms ‘clean eating’ is a healthy balanced diet. Include a variety of the different whole-foods such as fruits and vegetables; focus on lean meat, skinless chicken and fish; eat whole grains and small amounts of healthy mono- and poly unsaturated fats on a daily basis. Drink plenty of water and choose healthy cooking methods such as grilling, baking, steaming or boiling instead of frying. When eating clean, heavily refined and processed foods should be avoided.”

Retha warns against the tendency towards perfectionism when it comes to the clean eating concept.  She says, “On the one hand, you have the logical reasoning behind it, that ‘clean foods’ are generally less processed and refined, and are more whole foods.  The health benefits of this are not in any dispute.  On the other hand, though, following clean eating regimes can elicit so much food fear, food guilt and cause people to become overly restrictive and anxious about food. It’s important to take a balanced approach that enables you to enjoy your food as you make the best food choices that are available to you at the time, and rather avoid radicalism which causes unnecessary stress around food and eating.”

Is fasting for weight loss a good idea?

Intermittent fasting regimes focus on when you eat rather than what you eat.  They demand lifestyle changes and should not be done without consultation with your doctor first as fasting is not safe for all people. 

Retha says, “Fasting shows quick weight loss but it is not sustainable.  It can lead to muscle breakdown; a slower metabolic rate and interference with your liver enzymes.  When we are in a fasting state, the body’s energy first comes from glycogen, the glucose stores in our muscle and liver, and then from your muscle in a process called gluconeogenesis. Fat is more like a 2-day notice account and it takes longer than an intermittent fasting period to convert fat stores to ketones as energy. For those who are serious about achieving their weight loss goals this year, following a balanced, healthy eating plan and getting daily physical activity is the safe and sustainable pathway to success!”

If you would like to speak to a nutrition expert about your nutrition and weight goals for 2022, visit ADSA to find a registered dietitian in your area.

Meet the Dietitian: Cindy Chin

Get to know Cindy Chin, who serves on the ADSA Executive Committee 2021 – 2023 in the Communications portfolio (and she is the Woolworths dietitian)!

  • Tell us a bit more of yourself?

I live in Cape Town, I have two beautiful daughters (almost both teens) and an amazing husband. I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen with new recipes and ingredients, and gardening when I have the time!

  • Why did you become a Registered Dietitian?

I’m passionate about helping people to improve their diet and lifestyle.

I love the science of nutrition and the psychology of eating.

I love food (most types).

  • What would you have wanted to do if not Dietetics?

Accounting, but I can’t imagine myself doing that today!

  • Where did you study (degree and/ or postgrad)

Wits (BSc undergrad), UCT (BSc Hons Nutr & Diet), Stellenbosch (MSc Ther Nutr) (almost finished!)

  • Where do you work and what does your job entail?

Woolworths Foods. As the Nutrition manager, my role is to inform, direct and enable the delivery of the nutrition strategy across the foods business, through science-based nutritional expertise, strategic partnerships and thought leadership.

  • Walk us through a day in your life?

No day is the same but it usually entails a mixture of responding to emails and attending virtual meetings that are comprised of giving guidance to product teams, providing strategic input into various initiatives, presenting nutrition insights and training, signing off marketing comms, writing/reviewing nutritional guidelines, scanning research and attending webinars to stay up-skilled.

  • What do you enjoy most about the work you do? What are the most satisfying moments?

Making a difference to the nutritional quality of the foods people purchase, challenging better product development, the privilege of setting and driving nutritional standards for a major food retailer

  • What has been your career highlight?

I would have to say that travelling internationally with colleagues has probably been a career highlight. Experiencing good food with foodie fanatics is highly recommended!

  • What are the most challenging aspects of your career?

Influencing and negotiating in a commercial environment; translating complex scientific information into a retail-specific context; dispelling pseudoscience

  • What is something that people don’t know about you?

I like imagining a futuristic world so enjoy science fiction/fantasy books and movies like Lord of the Rings, Marvel, and reading the classics like Charles Dickens and Jane Austen.  

  • What are your favourite foods?

I love almost all types of foods, but Cantonese cuisine is my favourite.

  • What are the three things that you think people should stop saying when they meet a dietitian?
  • Is this healthy? (points at their plate of food)
  • What do you think about *insert latest fad diet name*?
  • I hope the dietitian approves.